last week i decided the kids and i needed to get out, have some fun, do something different. summer has hit the "drag" stage ... everything is "been there, done that" and nothing holds excitement any longer. so i planned to get everyone up early on thursday and road trip to maiden rock, wisconsin to the rush river produce farm. the entire trip would clock in at just under 90 minutes each way, the weather was forecast to be perfect, and everyone was excited.
wednesday night i realized that i'd slacked on laundry and wasn't sure if anyone had any shorts to wear. unfortunately, everyone's clothes wash in a different load (darks, reds, etc.), so three loads later it was 1 a.m. and i was finally ready for bed. the alarm was set for 7:30 so we could be on the road by 8. of course, harper then woke up at 6:45, excited, and wouldn't leave me alone. so up i got, started getting things around to leave, as i walked through the dining room to put something in my bag, i stepped right in a lukewarm pile of cat vomit. awesome. cleaned that up, cleaned myself up, got the kids around, and decided it would be egg mcmuffins on the way since we were now running a little behind schedule.
i had googled the address for more formal directions than the ones given to me over the phone when i called, so they were all written out and we were ready to go.
an hour and a half into the trip, we were still on highway 10, curving and winding through wisconsin. the directions specified three different "follow the curves," but the road wound around so much i had no idea what actually constituted a "curve."
finally i found the road before the last one, then turned onto the last directed lane ... a gravel road with a dead end sign. and no blueberry picking signs in sight.
a mile later we ended up at a house, which i knew couldn't possibly be right. so back down the gravel lane we went. the kids, by this point, were getting restless. harper hadn't charged her gameboy and it ran out of batteries about 20 minutes prior. our 90 minute trip had just hit the two-hour mark, and i had no idea where the berry place was. i did know that in the town of maiden rock was a landmark little bakery that used berries from rush river in their baked goods, so i told the kids we'd head there, get a snack, use the bathroom, and find out where the berry farm is. we headed the opposite direction on the main road, toward maiden rock, when suddenly we see a sign: blueberries, this way. hallelujah! i turned, and up the road we went.
reaching the top of the hill, we saw the most gorgeous piece of property: a beautiful farm full of flowers and blueberry fields and a red barn and an adorable little white farmhouse with a sky-blue metal roof. (which, perplexingly, i didn't take a single photo of it.)
(the hummingbirds were amazing ... i counted six!)
i parked, the kids got out, we picked up our blueberry baskets and headed out to pick.
all was going well until about 10 minutes in. then harper declared she had to go to the bathroom. i hadn't seen anywhere to go to the bathroom when we were walking in, so i asked her how badly she had to go. "i can hold it" was her answer, so i said we'd spend about 15 more minutes picking, then we'd head to the bakery and clean up and go potty. she said okay. two minutes later i took this photo. does this look like a child who can hold it?
no. i didn't think so either. so i asked her again, how badly do you have to go? i'm fine, she again answered. but she also then said she was done and wanted to go. to which i replied that we spent two hours in the car for less than 10 minutes of picking, and we weren't done yet. and if she really had to go, she needed to tell me and we'd find a place. no, she said, i'm fine.
so we picked for about 10 more minutes, harper alternating between whining about being done and gleefully picking handfuls of little berries, so it was pretty hard to tell just where her little head was.
she finally got downright testy, and i knew it was time to go. we took our bounty (just shy of 3/4 lb of blueberries ... totally worth it.) to the stand, paid $3.00, and took the little basket of berries to the car. i then asked harper, can you hold it until we get to the bakery? she said yes, but was wiggling pretty good. there wasn't a bathroom to be found at the farm, but i did see a sign for a scenic overlook just over the hill. so i grabbed some tissue and told the kids we were going for a walk, and told harper she could just go potty in the field where no one could see her.
that went over really well.
the trek to the top of the hill was fun ... there were little yellow butterflies everywhere, which the kids found really fascinating,
and we saw several butterflies stuck in the web of an industrious black and yellow spider. this thing was just huge and beautiful, and as much as i hate hate hate spiders in my house, in nature they don't really bother me. i know they belong there, and as long as i keep my distance, i can respect them.
we also saw two birds walking down a lane in the field, and we discussed what they might be: cranes, maybe?
anyway, we got to the top, admired the amazing view of lake pepin,
then i told harper, okay ... there's a trailer over there. we'll go behind it, no one will see a thing, and you can go potty. well, you'd have thought i just suggested she eat worms. the whining and wailing and protesting! and on top of that i *knew* she had to go and wouldn't be able to hold it much longer. why would she not just go?! but she didn't, no matter how much i tried to explain that it would be fine. (boys are so much easier at a time like that.)
i finally had to give up hope, so we walked quickly back to the car so we could head into maiden rock and the bakery.
15 minutes later we rounded the curve into maiden rock, i saw the bakery just ahead, and ... closed. for renovations. harper was in full-fledged whine/cry at this point, so i found a burger bar with an open sign (the only building that appeared open in town, and by "town" i mean the four buildings on the main road that look like businesses), we went in to use the bathroom, and then i asked the kids if they wanted lunch. true to form, one said yes, one said no. so i said forget it, we're heading home.
i didn't want to deal with the whiney anymore.
we started the trek home, stopping briefly at the lake pepin scenic overlook so the kids could decompress.
back in the car, i found a more direct way home and we started off. of course, because our day had been awesome so far, we continued with the fun and ended up detoured. half an hour out of our way. the kids were picking on each other and bickering, harper was throwing a fit that her gameboy wasn't charged, they tried to play a look-out-the-window game but that just deteriorated into more fighting. i finally found where the detour connected to the road i'd been trying to reach in the first place, and we pointed home.
ten minutes from our neighborhood, harper suddenly let out a wail: "i have to go potty so, so badly!" really, harper? "badly" like at the farm, when you held it for half an hour? or "badly" like you've had to go for the past 30 minutes but are just telling me now? either way, i said no ... we'll be home in less than 10 minutes and you'll be fine.
well, no. she whined. and whined. and whined. and i was flippin'. fed. up.
we got into the neighborhood, i came to the four-way stop sign and ... yes, my bad ... i looked both ways as i approached the sign, saw no one coming, and opted to slow down and roll through to save myself that 2.7 seconds of whining from harper. as soon as i started to accelerate out of the stop area, i looked to my left and saw a police car coming over the hill.
yup. lights. pulled over.
the policeman gets out, approaches the car, starts to give me trouble about the stop sign. i was mortified because i NEVER roll through a stop, harper's still whining about going to the bathroom, so i tried to explain my dilemma. he finally, apparently, heard harper so he told me to get her home and he would meet me there with my license. well, gee. that's service.
i drive the remaining three blocks, send the kids in, and wait for mr cranky cop. he gets there and starts giving me hell - "i have four kids and you can't tell me there wasn't a bathroom to pull into and blah blah blah." i try to tell him that it had been a crappy day, i couldn't handle the whining anymore, i was only minutes from home and just wanted to Get There, yes i probably should have pulled in somewhere but how did i know if she was really serious when she cries wolf about having to go to the bathroom all. day. long. and ... he told me to stop talking, that i was lucky i didn't have any moving violations or he'd write me a ticket for trying to talk my way out of one. and i just stopped. i wasn't trying to talk my way out of one, i was just so damn frustrated. so i slapped my hand over my mouth, mumbled "sorry" and "thank you," got my license back, went in the house, told the kids to go to their rooms and i did not want to see them for one hour ... then i had a good cry.
why is it that when i try to do something good and fun and different, it blows up in my face? why do i even bother, when all they want to do is stay home and play video games or lay on their bed and read? i could save myself a whole lot of trouble and frustration if i just sat back and let them be.
sometimes parenthood is really, really unrewarding.
on the upside: we had some really yummy blueberry pancakes for dinner that night. so, there was that.